October 20, 2005

Hey, now, hey now now

I've been listening to a lot of Sisters of Mercy lately. I blame my sister, who went from force-feeding me Def Leppard to force-feeding me Pearl Jam to force-feeding me Dead Can Dance over the course of the 14 years that we shared a bedroom. A few months ago when I nabbed Jacob's copy of the album Floodland so I could listen to it on BART, I was shocked to realize that I knew the whole damn thing by heart and could, if I were willing to do so, sing every song at least up to track six. Katie's influence on my young impressionable mind notwithstanding, I must admit that I liked the album then and I like it now. I just have a few things I need to point out.

One is that, as Katie and I did discuss on some recent occasion, if you attempted to describe any given song on the album to someone and have them recreate it just from the description, it wouldn't work. Take, for instance, "This Corrosion", the 10-minute monstrosity with only three actual verses. "See, okay, it's got a chorus of female backing vocals and they spend most of the song singing 'hey now, hey now now' and when they're not doing that it's pretty much 'ohhhh-ohh, oooohhh'." Go on, imagine it. It comes out gospel, right? Gospel all the way.

Two, the whole damn thing is a forest of mondegreens. The very first song promises, someday, something that sounds like Vermillion or Subliminal or The Million (dollars? for me?) or maybe even Perennial, but turns out to be actually Dominion. I was certain for years that I was being beseeched to sing, not this corrosion, but mixed emotion. And the thought of living in filth for the sake of Russia always made me shudder in a way that living in films does not. Jacob, for his part, found it more likely that he was hearing a vampire down than, say, an empire.

Three, I absolutely cannot hear the first verse of "This Corrosion" without seeing it in my mind as a music video. "Gimme sirens, child," they say, and that's all normal and fine, but then the backing chorus shrieks, "Gimme the ring!" and I picture a menacing crowd of Black Riders leaning forward and shaking skeletal fingers to the music. "Hey!" Frodo exclaims, clutching the ring, and the Black Riders shout, "Now!" And then they all break into the aforementioned gospel chorus and this is why you may see me on BART shaking my head violently to try to clear it. I can't imagine who would be more embarrassed, J.R.R. Tolkein or the Sisters of Mercy. Probably the latter, since the lone remaining Sister is now specializing in embarrassed denial of everything he can get away with. Goth? No. I'm not goth.

And you were born with the last name Eldritch, too, I'm just sure.

Posted by dianna at October 20, 2005 02:05 PM

I re-ordered a copy of Floodland a few weeks ago, because mine was stolen in the Great CD Loss of 1999, when my CD "book" was stolen out of my Saturn. (ALL my favorite CDs went). I felt I needed it because now it reminds me of some recent happy memories, in which the guy I met at the protests in DC last month (and now have an ongoing MSN/phone relationship with) put that CD on for me after hearing of my quasi-goth background. We were sitting around in his living room talking during the limited time I had in Washington, and he said, "if you hang out in goth clubs, you should know this," and two drumbeats in, I squealed, "Dominion! Mother Russia!"

Needless to say, it's now a happy enough memory that I have to re-listen to Floodland on a regular basis. And I love "This Corrosion" for the harpsichords. C'mon. How many rock songs - outside of Tori Amos - use a HARPSICHORD?

My problem is that the cover art just reminds me of the Sandman comics, so I tend to see it as a video set to that...but now that I have the LoTR image, I imagine I'm doomed. Maybe someone will pick up your post and Flash-animate a shortened version of the song to that imagery.

Posted by: jillian at October 20, 2005 05:10 PM

I just had a flashback to one of the summers I was at CSSSA in high school, and gloomily playing "Floodland" at my two roommates. One of them, who was less than impressed, tried to get on my nerves by singing along in her best mock-Andrew Eldritch voice. She started off pretty well intoning, "In the land of the blind, be..." and then started shrieking:



At any rate, I thought for a long time that I was supposed to be living in film for the sick of Russia. I had vague images of being quarantined in plastic wrap, like Bubble Boy.

Posted by: katie at October 21, 2005 12:27 AM

Also, I would like to clarify that I actually went from force-feeding you Def Leppard to force-feeding you Pearl Jam to force-feeding you Sisters of Mercy in the space of about two or three years. For the eleven years before that, I'm pretty sure there was no force-feeding.

Posted by: katie at October 21, 2005 12:33 AM

1. I'm going to retitle this post "Cake and Harpsichords".

2. I actually thought he was saying, Okay! Okay! Okay! Okay! The land of the blind is apparently pretty exasperating.

3. But there's just no way it was only 2 or 3 years of force-feeding. I recall getting driven out of the room at least as far back as 1991 (so, okay, 4 or 5 years).

Posted by: Dianna at October 21, 2005 08:57 AM